Configuration channel

The configuration channel lets you exchange data between the host computer and an nRF Desktop’s HID device. On the logical level, it creates a bridge between the application modules and the corresponding part of the host script. If there are more compatible devices connected to the host, you can select which device will receive data. The configuration channel allows a dongle type device to act as a proxy for Bluetooth® LE Peripheral devices.

Among the types of data that you can send through the configuration channel are the following:

  • Device configuration parameters, for example mouse sensor CPI.

  • Firmware updates.

  • LED effect display data, after it has been generated on the computer.

For instructions on how to install and use the configuration channel tools that are provided in the nRF Connect SDK on a host computer, see the HID configurator for nRF Desktop.

Transport overview

The configuration channel activity is performed using a dedicated HID feature report. The cross-platform HIDAPI library is used for exchanging the reports. The library supports both Bluetooth® LE and USB.

On the HID feature report level, the host can set or get report, either to or from the connected device. The host initiates all data exchange.

Note

If the device supports multiple USB or Bluetooth® LE HID instances, only one USB HID instance and only one Bluetooth® LE HID instance can be used to configure the device. Other HID instances ignore the HID report set method and respond with the disconnected status on the HID report get method to indicate that the HID instance is not used for configuration channel.

Transaction request and response

To maintain the communication pace between the host and the device, configuration channel uses transactions. Each transaction consists of a single request send from the host to the device, followed by a single response that provides the completion status of the requested activity.

  • A request from the host to the device is a single HID feature report set operation.

  • The response is a single HID feature report get operation.

Since the device works asynchronously from the host, it might happen that an activity requested by the host through the configuration channel is still pending when the host-side operation is done.

  • If the received request completion status indicates that the request is still pending, the host must retry asking the device for status update after some time.

  • If the received status indicates that the request was completed by the device, the host can send another request.

Note

There can be only one pending configuration channel request. The host can send the following request only after it received response for the previous request.

Transaction types

The configuration channel has the following transaction types:

  • set - Used to write configurable options.

  • fetch - Used to read the values of options from the device.

Both transactions can be used to trigger a device to perform an activity, but fetch transaction can ensure that such activity is completed.

Transaction forwarding

The nRF Desktop dongle can forward the request from the host to a peripheral. In such case, the dongle also forwards the response from the peripheral to the host. The HID forward module implements this functionality.

See the following diagrams for example transactions:

Setting a configuration value

msc {
hscale = "1.3";
Host,Device;
Host>>Device      [label="set report: set value 1600"];
Host<<Device      [label="get report: SUCCESS"];
}

Fetching a configuration value

msc {
hscale = "1.3";
Host,Device;
Host>>Device      [label="set report: request value fetch"];
Host<<Device      [label="get report: PENDING"];
Host<<Device      [label="get report: value 1600, SUCCESS"];
}

Setting a configuration value of a device, forwarded by the dongle to a paired device

msc {
hscale = "1.3";
Host,Dongle,Device;
Host>>Dongle      [label="set report: set value 1600"];
Dongle>>Device    [label="set report: set value 1600"];
Host<<Dongle      [label="get report: PENDING"];
Dongle<<Device    [label="get report: SUCCESS"];
Host<<Dongle      [label="get report: SUCCESS"];
}

Data format

Both request and response share the same data format, which is described in the following table.

Feature report

0

1

2

3

4

5

Report ID

Recipient

Event ID bits:

Status

Data length

Data

0..3

4..7

Option ID

Module ID

See the following sections for detailed description of each HID feature report component.

Report ID

This is the HID report identifier of the feature report used for transmitting data.

The configuration channel uses a predefined HID feature report.

Note

Bluetooth® LE HID Service removes the leading report ID byte. As a result, firmware obtains a data frame shorter by one byte.

The USB HID class transmits the whole report, including the report ID byte.

Recipient

This is the identifier of the device to which the request is addressed.

This field is used to route requests in a multi-device setup. The field can have the following values:

  • 0 - The transaction is intended for a directly connected device.

  • Other values - The transaction should be forwarded by HID forward module to the peripheral connected over Bluetooth® LE. The recipients connected over Bluetooth® LE are discovered during the device discovery.

Event ID

This is the identifier of both module and option for set or fetch operation.

The field is composed of the following subfields:

  • Module ID - The application module that should handle the transaction, stored on the 4 most significant bits of the Event ID field.

  • Option ID - The module option the transaction refers to, stored on the 4 least significant bits of the Event ID field.

The values of Module ID and Option ID are assigned during the application build time. These values are obtained during the device discovery performed by the host. The same application module can have different ID value, when it was compiled at different configuration.

Status

The usage of the Status field is different for request and response operations.

Request

In case of request, the value of Status field denotes requested operation. The request operations can be grouped as follows:

Generic operations

There are two generic operations:

  • CONFIG_STATUS_SET

  • CONFIG_STATUS_FETCH

These operations perform, respectively, set or fetch actions related to a given application module and option (as denoted by Event ID). The request is handled by the selected application module. The content and length of the associated data depends on module and option.

Module discovery operations

The Info module handles module discovery operations. These operations are used during the device discovery to obtain information about the device.

The Event ID field is not used and it should be set to 0. The following operations belong to this group:

  • CONFIG_STATUS_GET_MAX_MOD_ID - Obtain the maximum value of Module ID supported by the device. The maximum Module ID is returned as a single unsigned byte.

  • CONFIG_STATUS_GET_HWID - Obtain an unique Hardware ID of the device. The Hardware ID is represented as 8 bytes.

  • CONFIG_STATUS_GET_BOARD_NAME - Obtain the device’s board name. The board name is part of the Zephyr board name (CONFIG_BOARD) from a beginning to the first underscore (_) character. For example the nrf52840gmouse_nrf52840 would return nrf52840gmouse as the board name.

Note

Using Info module is mandatory for every device that is configurable with the configuration channel. The module provides information that are necessary to identify the device.

Recipient discovery operations

The HID forward module handles recipients discovery operations. These operations are performed to obtain IDs of Bluetooth® LE Peripherals connected to the device. See discovering devices connected through dongle for more information.

The Event ID field is not used and it should be set to 0. The following operations belong to this group:

  • CONFIG_STATUS_INDEX_PEERS - Request Recipient ID re-evaluation. Response to this request returns no data. When performed device will map each connected Bluetooth® LE Peripheral to an integer.

  • CONFIG_STATUS_GET_PEER - Obtain Recipient ID of Bluetooth® LE Peripheral. Response to this request contains the following information:

    • Peripheral’s Hardware ID on the first 8 bytes of response data.

    • Recipient ID assigned to the peripheral on the last meaningful byte of the response data.

    Performing the operation multiple times returns information about subsequent Bluetooth® LE Peripherals. This operation should be performed until Recipient ID is set to 0xFF, in which case there are no more peripherals.

Response

In case of response, the value of the Status field indicates the state of the earlier request. The following values are possible:

  • CONFIG_STATUS_PENDING - The operation is not yet completed. The response is not ready and the data field should not be interpreted. The host should not sent new requests before the operation completes.

  • CONFIG_STATUS_SUCCESS - The operation was successful. The host tool can access data returned by the response. The host can send a new request.

  • CONFIG_STATUS_TIMEOUT - The operation timed out on the device. The request was accepted by an application module but the response was not prepared in time. The host can send a new request.

  • CONFIG_STATUS_REJECT - The operation was rejected. The host can send a new request.

  • CONFIG_STATUS_WRITE_FAIL - Forwarding configuration channel transaction failed. The host can send a new request.

  • CONFIG_STATUS_DISCONNECTED - The operation failed because a module or a device addressed by the request did not respond. This can happen when Bluetooth® LE Peripheral disconnects. The host can send a new request.

Data length

Indicates how many meaningful bytes of data the request or the response holds. As the HID feature report has a fixed length, this field indicates the size of the meaningful data.

Data

The piece of data of the length defined by Data length, related to the request or the response.

Device discovery

Before the device can be configured over the configuration channel, it needs to be discovered by the host scripts. The discovery procedure identifies the device and gets information about its configurable application modules and their options.

If you are developing a custom host tool, you need to ensure your tool performs the following steps to discover the device:

  1. Enumerate all of the connected HID devices.

  2. Filter the enumerated devices using Vendor ID and Product ID specified for your devices.

  3. For each applicable device, perform recipient discovery.

  4. For each device, perform device identification.

  5. For each device, perform module discovery.

Tip

The host tools do not need to perform complete discovery of the device every time the device is connected. The Module ID and Options ID cannot change until firmware is updated on the device. The module descriptor can be cached by the host for a given device and firmware version.

Recipient discovery

The Recipient ID equal to 0 is used to communicate with any device directly connected to the host.

The configuration channel allows a dongle type device to act as a proxy for Bluetooth® LE Peripheral devices. If you are developing a custom host tool, you need to ensure your tool performs the following steps to discover all of the peripherals that are connected to the dongle over Bluetooth® LE:

  1. Trigger a Recipient ID re-evaluation with the CONFIG_STATUS_INDEX_PEERS request.

  2. Obtain a list of connected devices by calling the CONFIG_STATUS_GET_PEER request.

Once the Recipient ID list is obtained, you can perform Device identification and Module discovery procedures on selected or all connected devices. When sending the requests, use the chosen Recipient ID.

The assigned Recipient ID is valid only during the connection time between the remote device and the dongle. If a remote device disconnects from the dongle, the recipient discovery must be repeated when the device reconnects.

Tip

The recipient discovery is not needed if the host does not interact with remote devices connected through the dongle or if the device is a directly connected peripheral.

Device identification

The following requests provide the information about the device hardware:

  • CONFIG_STATUS_GET_BOARD_NAME - For reading board name.

  • CONFIG_STATUS_GET_HWID - For Hardware ID. The Hardware ID allows to differentiate devices of the same type (that have the same board name).

If you are developing a custom host tool, use the Recipient ID linked with the device that is being discovered. Your tool should note which Recipient ID and HID instance on the host is associated with the board name and Hardware ID.

Module discovery

The host can access options provided by the application modules. Before it gets access to the options, the host must identify which modules are available and what options are provided by them.

Both modules and their options are identified by a name, sent as a string during discovery procedure:

  • The module of the given name is linked with a specific value of Module ID.

  • The option of the given name is linked with a specific value of Option ID.

The Module ID and Option ID associated with the module and the option name can vary between devices, but they do not change between connections to the same device and firmware version.

If you are developing a custom host tool, you need to ensure your tool performs the following steps for the module discovery procedure:

  1. Obtain the number of configurable application modules using the CONFIG_STATUS_GET_MAX_MOD_ID request. The response returns the highest value of Module ID available on the device.

  2. Read the module descriptor of every application module (iterate Module ID from 0 up to and including the maximum supported Module ID).

For reading the module descriptor, the following conditions must be met:

  • The module descriptor is read using fetch request with the current Module ID while Option ID is set to 0. The transaction must be performed multiple times, with responses for following requests containining strings that are part of the module descriptor.

  • The end line character (\n) indicates the end of the descriptor. After the end line character is fetched, following requests should loop around and repeat descriptor strings.

  • The module descriptor strings are provided in a predefined order, but the host should make no assumption about the descriptor string that will be provided by the device as the first one.

  • The duplicated string is fetched after the host received all of the strings related to given module. The host can stop option discovery procedure when a duplicated string is fetched.

  • The module name should be provided as the first string in the module descriptor.

  • The following strings should indicate the module option names. The first option on the descriptor must be identified with Option ID equal to 1. The following options will be identified by monotonically increasing Option ID values (second option by 2, third by 3, and so on).

  • Once the descriptor is read, the module options can be accessed. When performing set or fetch request on the option, the Event ID contains Option ID and Module ID of module that owns the option.

The module descriptor can contain an optional module_variant option. The nRF Desktop application modules come in various variants with different characteristics. The module_variant option allows to differentiate which module variant was compiled into the firmware. For example, Motion module uses this option to identify a motion sensor model.

Handling configuration channel in firmware

To enable the configuration channel in the nRF Desktop firmware, set the CONFIG_DESKTOP_CONFIG_CHANNEL_ENABLE Kconfig option. This option also enables the mandatory Info module.

Make sure you also configure the following configuration channel elements:

Transport configuration

The HID configurator uses the HID feature reports to exchange the data.

Depending on the connection method:

  • If the device is connected through USB, data exchange between the device and the host is handled by the USB state module in the functions get_report() and set_report().

  • If the device is connected over Bluetooth® LE, data exchange between the device and the host is handled in HID Service module in feature_report_handler(). The argument write indicates whether the report is a GATT write (set report) or a GATT read (get report).

    Forwarding requests through a dongle to a connected peripheral is handled in HID forward module. The dongle, which is a Bluetooth® LE Central, uses the HID Client module to find the feature report of the paired device and access it in order to forward the request. The request forwarding is based on Recipient ID, which is assigned by the HID forward module. From the script user perspective, the device can be identified using type, board name or Hardware ID.

Note

If the Low Latency Packet Mode (LLPM) connection interval is in use, the Bluetooth Peripheral can provide either an HID input report or a GATT write response during a single connection event.

To prevent HID input report rate drop while forwarding config channel report set operation, nRF Desktop Dongle can forward the data using GATT write without response. In that case, the peripheral does not have to provide the GATT write response instead of sending the HID input report.

The “GATT write without response” operation cannot be performed on the HID feature report. To allow the “GATT write without response”, the Peripheral must provide an additional HID output report. Use the CONFIG_DESKTOP_CONFIG_CHANNEL_OUT_REPORT Kconfig option in the nRF Desktop peripheral configuration to add the mentioned HID output report. Disabling this option reduces the memory consumption.

The config_event is used to propagate the configuration channel data. The configuration channel request received from host is propagated using the mentioned event with config_event.is_request set to true. The application module that handles the request consumes the event and provides the response. The response is provided as config_event with config_event.is_request set to false. In case a request is not handled by any application module, the configuration channel transport will eventually receive it and generate an error response.

Listener configuration

The configuration channel listener is an application module that provides a set of options that are accessible through the configuration channel. For example, depending on listener, it can provide the CPI option from Motion module or the option for searching for new peer from Bluetooth LE bond module. The host computer can use set or fetch request to access these options.

On the firmware side, the configuration channel listener and its options are referenced with numbers, respectively module ID and option IDs.

On the host side, these IDs are translated to strings based on the registered listener and option names. Details are described in the HID configurator for nRF Desktop.

To register an application module as a configuration channel listener, complete the following steps:

  1. Make sure that the application module is an Event Manager listener.

  2. Include the config_event.h header.

  3. Subscribe for the config_event using the EVENT_SUBSCRIBE_EARLY macro:

    EVENT_LISTENER(MODULE, event_handler);
    #if CONFIG_DESKTOP_CONFIG_CHANNEL_ENABLE
    EVENT_SUBSCRIBE_EARLY(MODULE, config_event);
    #endif
    

    The module should subscribe only if the configuration channel is enabled.

    Note

    The module must be an early subscriber to make sure it will receive the event before the configuration channel transports (USB state module and HID Service module). Otherwise, the module may not receive the configuration channel requests at all. In that case an error responses will be generated by configuration channel transport.

  4. Call GEN_CONFIG_EVENT_HANDLERS in the Event Manager event handler function registered by the application module:

    static bool event_handler(const struct event_header *eh)
    {
        /* Functions used to handle other events. */
        ...
    
        GEN_CONFIG_EVENT_HANDLERS(STRINGIFY(MODULE), opt_descr,
                                  config_set, config_get);
    
        /* Functions used to handle other events. */
        ...
    }
    

    You must provide the following arguments to the macro:

    • Module name - String representing the module name (STRINGIFY(MODULE)).

    • Array with the names of the module’s options (opt_descr):

      /* Creating enum to denote the module options is recommended,
       * because it makes code more readable.
       */
      enum test_module_opt {
          TEST_MODULE_OPT_FILTER_PARAM,
          TEST_MODULE_OPT_PARAM_BLE,
          TEST_MODULE_OPT_PARAM_WIFI,
      
          TEST_MODULE_OPT_COUNT
      };
      
      static const char * const opt_descr[] = {
          [TEST_MODULE_OPT_FILTER_PARAM] = "filter_param",
          [TEST_MODULE_OPT_PARAM_BLE] = "param_ble",
          [TEST_MODULE_OPT_PARAM_WIFI] = "param_wifi"
      };
      
    • Set operation handler (config_set()):

      static void config_set(const uint8_t opt_id, const uint8_t *data,
                             const size_t size)
      {
          switch (opt_id) {
          case TEST_MODULE_OPT_FILTER_PARAM:
              /* Handle the data received under the "data" pointer.
               * Number of received bytes is described as "size".
               */
              if (size != sizeof(struct filter_parameters)) {
                  LOG_WRN("Invalid size");
              } else {
                  update_filter_params(data);
              }
          break;
      
          case TEST_MODULE_OPT_PARAM_BLE:
              /* Handle the data. */
              ....
          break;
      
          /* Handlers for other option IDs. */
          ....
      
          default:
              /* The option is not supported by the module. */
              LOG_WRN("Unknown opt %" PRIu8, opt_id);
              break;
          }
      }
      
    • Fetch operation handler (config_get()):

      static void config_get(const uint8_t opt_id, uint8_t *data, size_t *size)
      {
          switch (opt_id) {
          case TEST_MODULE_OPT_FILTER_PARAM:
              /* Fill the buffer under the "data" pointer with
               * requested data. Number of written bytes must be
               * reflected by the value under the "size" pointer.
               */
              memcpy(data, filter_param, sizeof(filter_param));
              *size = sizeof(filter_param);
              break;
      
          case TEST_MODULE_OPT_PARAM_BLE:
              /* Handle the request. */
              ....
              break;
      
          /* Handlers for other option IDs. */
          ....
      
          default:
              /* The option is not supported by the module. */
              LOG_WRN("Unknown opt: %" PRIu8, opt_id);
              break;
          }
      }
      

Note

A configuration channel listener can specify its variant by providing an option named OPT_DESCR_MODULE_VARIANT. On a fetch operation of this option, the module must provide an array of characters that represents the module variant.

  • The Motion module uses the module variant to specify the motion sensor model.

  • The HID configurator for nRF Desktop uses the module variant to provide a separate description of the configurable module for every module variant.

For an example of a module that uses the configuration channel, see the following files:

  • src/modules/ble_qos.c

  • src/modules/led_stream.c

  • src/modules/dfu.c

  • src/hw_interface/motion_sensor.c

Dependencies

The configuration channel uses the Event Manager events to propagate the configuration data.

Dependencies for the host software are described in the HID configurator for nRF Desktop.

API documentation

The following API is used by the configuration channel transports. The configurable application modules (configuration channel listeners) do not use it.

Header file: applications/nrf_desktop/src/util/config_channel_transport.h
Source file: applications/nrf_desktop/src/util/config_channel_transport.c
group config_channel_transport

API for the configuration channel transport.

Enums

enum config_channel_transport_state

Config channel transport states.

Values:

enumerator CONFIG_CHANNEL_TRANSPORT_DISABLED
enumerator CONFIG_CHANNEL_TRANSPORT_IDLE
enumerator CONFIG_CHANNEL_TRANSPORT_WAIT_RSP
enumerator CONFIG_CHANNEL_TRANSPORT_RSP_READY

Functions

int config_channel_report_parse(const uint8_t *buffer, size_t length, struct config_event *event)

Parse the configuration channel report.

Parameters
  • buffer – Pointer to the report buffer to be parsed.

  • length – Length of the buffer.

  • event – Pointer to the event used to store the parsed values.

Returns

Number of parsed bytes if the operation was successful. Otherwise, a negative error code is returned.

int config_channel_report_fill(uint8_t *buffer, const size_t length, const struct config_event *event)

Fill the configuration channel report with values from a provided event.

Parameters
  • buffer – Pointer to the report buffer to be filled.

  • length – Length of the buffer.

  • event – Pointer to a event with values to be copied to the buffer.

Returns

Number of written bytes if the operation was successful. Otherwise, a negative error code is returned.

void config_channel_transport_init(struct config_channel_transport *transport)

Initialize the configuration channel transport instance.

Parameters
  • transport – Pointer to the configuration channel transport instance.

int config_channel_transport_get(struct config_channel_transport *transport, uint8_t *buffer, size_t length)

Handle a get operation on the configuration channel.

Parameters
  • transport – Pointer to the configuration channel transport instance.

  • buffer – Pointer to the buffer to be filled when handling the get request.

  • length – Length of the data to be filled.

Returns

0 if the operation was successful. Otherwise, a (negative) error code is returned.

int config_channel_transport_set(struct config_channel_transport *transport, const uint8_t *buffer, size_t length)

Handle a set operation on the configuration channel.

Parameters
  • transport – Pointer to the configuration channel transport instance.

  • buffer – Pointer to the report buffer to be parsed to handle the set request.

  • length – Length of the incoming data.

Returns

0 if the operation was successful. Otherwise, a (negative) error code is returned.

int config_channel_transport_get_disabled(uint8_t *buffer, size_t length)

Handle a get operation and inform that the transport is disabled.

Fills the buffer with response informing that the transport is disabled and cannot be used to configure device. If a given transport is disabled, set operation should be ignored and get operation should use this function to prepare response for host.

The disabled transport returns disconnected status.

Parameters
  • buffer – Pointer to the buffer to be filled.

  • length – Length of the data to be filled.

Returns

0 if the operation was successful. Otherwise, a (negative) error code is returned.

bool config_channel_transport_rsp_receive(struct config_channel_transport *transport, struct config_event *event)

Handle the response received from higher layer.

Parameters
  • transport – Pointer to the configuration channel transport instance.

  • event – Pointer to the event carrying the received response.

Returns

true if response was designated for this transport. Otherwise returns false.

void config_channel_transport_disconnect(struct config_channel_transport *transport)

Handle the configuration channel transport disconnection.

Parameters
  • transport – Pointer to the configuration channel transport instance

struct config_channel_transport
#include <config_channel_transport.h>

Configuration channel transport.